Policy papers

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Policy papers

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Access to justice in Africa

Our global releases provide analysis across all surveyed countries on the most important and timely issues that Afrobarometer covers. Many are released during special release events in specific countries; all are distributed to stakeholders, the news media, and globally via our website.

PP50: La gouvernance, affecte-t-elle la volonté des Béninois à payer leurs taxes?

La mobilisation des ressources à travers la collecte des impôts et taxes est l’un des moyens pouvant permettre à une nation de renforcer sa capacité financière et améliorer la fourniture des biens et services publics pour le bien-être de la population. Cependant, les pays en voie de développement, qui ont un besoin énorme en termes de fourniture des biens et services publics, présentent une faible capacité à mobiliser les taxes (Besley & Persson, 2014).

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PP49: Heal the beloved country: Zimbabwe’s polarized electorate

For a moment, Zimbabwe’s July 30, 2018, elections seemed to promise relief from a traumatic political past. An aging autocrat had been deposed and his successor intoned pledges of “a new dispensation.” A dormant opposition movement began to reawaken to opportunities for open political campaigning. At home and abroad, Zimbabwe’s well-wishers allowed themselves a cautious hope that change was finally afoot. But change was not to be.

Another disputed election

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PP48: Demand for transparency, accountability drives call for electing local leaders in Ghana

Decentralization occurs when resources, power, and tasks are delegated to local-level governance structures that are democratic and largely independent of central government (Manor, 1999). Decentralization can thus be an important vehicle for ensuring that sustainable development policies and programs are implemented at the local level and bring socio-economic relief to the grass roots.

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PP46: Food, health, poverty, water: How Malian citizens prioritize problems and the Sustainable Development Goals

ONLY AVAILABLE IN FRENCH.

Le présent rapport traite des questions portant sur les plus importants problèmes auxquels le Mali fait face et auxquels le gouvernement devrait s'attaquer. Il traite successivement de ces problèmes tels que révélés par les citoyens dans l'enquête Afrobaromètre de 2017 au Mali, des domaines de développement que recouvrent ces problèmes, et enfin des Objectifs de Développement Durable (ODD) qui peuvent en être tirés, objectifs correspondant à ceux de Nations Unies à l'horizon 2030.

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PP45: Local governance in Benin: A guarantee of sustainable development?

Faced with the disappointing performance of centralized systems, many African states opted for decentralization in the 1990s in a bid to ensure that their citizens receive quality services (Anago, 2009). In theory, decentralization involves withdrawing some powers from the central state and transferring them to elected bodies at the local level. This introduced the concept of local governance, whose practical implementation supposes that all actors understand the institutional framework within which they function as well as their roles, responsibilities, and room for maneuver.

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PP43: Tax compliance Africans affirm civic duty but lack trust in tax department

In any economy, balancing expenditures, revenues, and debts is a delicate and often politicized task. Competing interests and priorities buffet those tasked with planning a viable and stable national budget. For any state, taxes raised from individuals and businesses are a central plinth supporting the provision of services, the maintenance of infrastructure, the employment of civil servants, and the smooth functioning of the state. 

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PP41: Efficacy for fighting corruption: Evidence from 36 African countries

Corruption is a major obstacle to economic growth, human development, and poverty reduction (Mauro, 1995, 2004; Asiedu, 2006). The practice of demanding or expecting monetary or other benefits in exchange for preferential treatment has plagued the global South, and high-profile revelations of corruption in politics and business have shed light on the magnitude of the problem (Baker, 2016; McCool, 2015).

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PP42: Public service delivery in South Africa: Councillors and citizens critical links in overcoming persistent inequities

The August 2016 local government elections in South Africa sent an earthquake through the political class when the African National Congress (ANC) lost power in three major cities of the country. Coalition governments led by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) took over the economic powerhouse, Johannesburg; the administrative capital and seat of the Presidency, Pretoria; and the biggest city in the Eastern Cape and the country’s vehicle-manufacturing hub, Nelson Mandela Bay.

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PP40: Beyond the Arab Spring: Will economic and security challenges further test Tunisia’s democracy?

In contrast to sub-Saharan Africa, where many countries experienced political liberalization during the late 1980s and early 1990s (Bratton, 1997), the authoritarian regimes of North Africa were largely able to resist popular demands for transformation by introducing limited, topdown reforms. In Tunisia, there were some improvements to political freedoms after Zine El Abidine Ben Ali took office in 1988 and was elected as president the following year in the country’s first election since 1972 (Abushouk, 2016).

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PP39: Ambitious SDG goal confronts challenging realities: Access to justice is still elusive for many Africans

Access to justice for all citizens has long been recognized as a cornerstone of democracy, good governance, and effective and equitable development. Its centrality has recently been highlighted in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG16), which calls for all societies to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels” (United Nations, 2016).

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PP38: Still no alternative? Popular views of the opposition in Southern Africa’s one-party dominant regimes

Following decades of authoritarian rule, multiparty democracy re-emerged in a “wave” of democratization in sub-Saharan Africa during the early 1990s. Twenty-nine countries in the region held founding elections – first competitive elections after an authoritarian period – between 1989 and 1994, of which 16 led to full democratic transitions (Bratton, 1997). Notable successes include Namibia (1989), Cape Verde (1991), Ghana (1992), and South Africa (1994), which a generation later are ranked among Africa’s politically “free” countries (Freedom House, 2016).

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PP37: Are Africans willing to pay higher taxes or user fees for better health care?

In many parts of Africa, access to and quality of medical services remain poor (Deaton & Tortora, 2015; KPMG, 2012; Lowell, Conway, Keesmaat, McKenna, & Richardson, 2010; Streefland, 2005). While economic growth in recent decades has fostered improved health care on the continent, weak funding, brain drain of trained professionals, and ongoing battles with diseases such as TB, HIV, diarrheal diseases, and malaria as well as recurring epidemics such as Ebola continue to put immense pressure on medical systems in many countries (Ighobor, 2015; McKay, 2015; Chothia, 2014).

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PP36: Do Africans still want democracy?

Judging by media headlines, democracy appears to be under stress everywhere from leaders like Vladimir Putin in Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, and Yoweri Museveni in Uganda. Yet social scientists know there is often a mismatch between what can be gleaned from news reports or social media and real, underlying trends. To take just one example, media attention to wars in Syria and Iraq suggests rising conflict around the world.

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PP35: Election quality, public trust are central issues for Africa’s upcoming contests

Nothing kindles democracy’s energies, anxieties, hopes, and frustrations like an election. The quality of an election can spell the difference between a cooking fire and an explosion.

If a successful election can calm and focus a nation (e.g. Namibia 2015), a disputed election can tear it apart (e.g. Burundi 2015, Côte d'Ivoire 2010, Kenya 2008).

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PP34: Does less engaged mean less empowered? Political participation lags among African youth, especially women

African Youth Charter outlines young citizens’ rights and responsibilities, affirming that “youth are partners, assets and a prerequisite for sustainable development and for the peace and prosperity of Africa” (African Union, 2006, p. 2). Article 11 of the charter gives every young citizen “the right to participate in all spheres of society” and mandates that states encourage youth activism and ensure gender equity in political representation and participation (p. 6). Among responsibilities, the charter cites full participation in civic duties such as voting in elections and volunteering.

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PP33: Evaluating Botswana’s performance on National Vision 2016

On 30 September 2016, Botswana will mark its 50th year of independence from the United Kingdom, a significant occasion for both celebration and reflection. An important part of this reflection has focused on Botswana’s transition from National Vision 2016, the blueprint that has guided the country’s development for the past two decades, to National Vision 2036, in tandem with the global move from the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals (Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, 2016a).

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PP32: Violent extremism in Africa: Public opinion from the Sahel, Lake Chad, and the Horn

Over the past two decades, the threat posed by violent extremist groups that espouse fundamentalist religious narratives has grown substantially across Africa (Hallowanger, 2014). The colonial era and the undemocratic rule that characterized many post-independence governments generated anti-Western and jihadist movements across the Middle East and the wider Islamic world (Moore, 2016). These movements advocate conservative religious rule as a cure for modern societies’ social ills.

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PP31: Despite gains, barriers keep health care high on Africa’s priority list

Access to health care gained the spotlight on national and international development agendas when the 1978 Alma Ata Declaration outlined a strategy for achieving universal access to primary health care by the year 2000 (World Health Organization, 1978). The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set targets for improving health-care delivery by 2015, and the United Nations’ new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which took effect in January 2016, extend and supplement those with ambitious targets aimed at ensuring healthy lives for all.

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PP30: Botswana's democratic consolidation: What will it take?

Botswana is Africa’s oldest continuous democracy, having enjoyed decades of peaceful multipartyism since independence in 1966. However, this success is tempered by growing concerns that the country’s remarkable stability has come at the cost of further political development. Significant weaknesses in Botswana’s democracy include low civic participation, relatively weak opposition and civil society sectors, and a lack of incumbent turnover in 11 consecutive free and fair elections.

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PP29: Africa’s growth dividend? Lived poverty drops across much of the continent

Though Africa has recorded high levels of economic growth over the past decade, previous Afrobarometer surveys of citizens found little evidence that this growth had reduced levels of poverty in any consistent way (Dulani, Mattes, & Logan, 2013). However, new data from Afrobarometer Round 6, collected across 35 African countries, suggest a very different picture.

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PP10: Popular Perceptions of the Causes and Consequences of the Conflict in Mali

In the December 2012 Afrobarometer survey, Malians highlighted the primary causes of the serious sociopolitical crisis that their country was going through, as lack of patriotism on the part of the leaders and weakness of the State. At that time, most Malians had lost trust in the political class and in politicians. One year later (December 2013), however, a follow-up Afrobarometer survey revealed that foreign terrorists and corruption are rather the two primary causes of the Northern conflict and occupation.

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PP28: Are policy reforms enough to improve satisfaction with health care? Evidence from Benin

In 2009, the government of Benin embarked on a series of policy initiatives to increase public access to health services, especially for pregnant women, children under age 5, and the poor.

While health coverage rates remained steady, attendance at health services increased sharply, and at first, public satisfaction with the government’s performance in improving basic health services increased as well. However, by 2014, public approval of the government’s efforts had dropped sharply. What explains this decrease in public satisfaction, despite the policy reforms?

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PP26: The viability of political opposition in Africa: Popular views

How competitive are African political regimes? Why do opposition parties often struggle to gain a foothold? In many countries, an incumbent ruling party dominates the political arena, essentially reducing elections to a one-horse race and limiting day-to-day governance to a closed shop. In these countries it is unclear whether opposition political parties are sufficiently viable – either alone or in electoral alliance – to amass enough votes to win and exercise political office.

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PP25: MDC-T defeat in Zimbabwe: Was it only due to intimidation?

In the relatively peaceful harmonized elections of July 2013, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe overwhelmingly defeated challenger Morgan Tsvangirai, 61% to 34%. Mugabe’s party, the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), also won 158 of the country’s 210 parliamentary seats, giving it more than a two-thirds majority in the lower House of Assembly, as well as a large majority of local council seats.

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PP24: Trust in political institutions in Senegal: Why did it drop?

The 2000 presidential elections were a turning point in the political trajectory of Senegal. After four decades of single-party and limited multi-party rule, the country’s first true political alternation handed power to Abdoulaye Wade and ushered Senegal into the ranks of stable democracies in Africa. President Wade won re-election, with a comfortable majority, in 2007.

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PP23: Support for the International Criminal Court in Africa: Evidence from Kenya

Some key findings from this Policy Paper:

  • The latest Afrobarometer survey finds that two-thirds (66%) of Kenyans believe that their national judiciary treats people unequally. Almost nine in 10 (86%) say that ordinary citizens who break the law “never” or “rarely” go unpunished, while only 20% say that this is the case for public officials.
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